Leaders of Africa’s green movements, meeting virtually at the Global Greens Conference on February 5, spoke about the difficulties faced by green parties in the face of the strong predominance of “authoritarian” regimes in most African countries.
During this session entitled “Greens Struggle for Democracy in Africa”, the panelists explored the multiple challenges related to the functioning and existence of green parties on the continent.
The finding is that green parties across Africa are struggling to emerge due to strict undemocratic laws and dictatorial and autocratic regimes in various African countries. Several laws have been put in place that restrict freedom of speech, freedom of political assembly and freedom of expression.
Many believe that the recent military takeovers in some African countries do not promise a bright future for the green movement in Africa.
We will remember the military regime of Sani Abacha in Nigeria who, on November 10, 1995, hanged the founder of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop) because of his resounding advocacy against Shell. His movement was repressed for his action against the serious pollution of the region of the Niger River delta by the oil industries.
Green parties in Africa: challenges for democracy
Political ecology remains misunderstood by most governments in Africa who compete with green parties to show that the greens themselves are greener and that parties are unnecessary. This is one of the reasons that led the participants of this panel to reflect on the struggle of green parties for democracy in Africa.
Among the speakers, there was Dr. Frank Habineza, founding President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda who first made an inventory of the situation of his party in Rwanda before explaining how his party was struggling to register and to function fully as a political party. Frank Habineza encountered enormous difficulties caused by the power in Kigali before succeeding in obtaining representation in parliaments. The Democratic Green Party (DGP) in Rwanda has two deputies in the National Assembly and one senator. Frank Habineza also evoked the horrific assassination of the vice-president of his party, André Rwisereka, who was beheaded in a ditch in July 2010. All these elements sufficiently prove the long fight that the Rwandan green party is waging for democracy in his country.
For her part, the Ugandan Robinah K. Nanyunja, first vice-president of the Federation of African Greens indicated that the lack of financial support and the lack of increase in membership would be among the factors which justify the low representativeness of the green parties on the political scene in Africa. She also discusses some of the difficulties faced by the green movement in her country. Peaceful cohabitation between the government and the green parties is proving difficult as the leaders believe that the Ministry of Environment is already dealing with environmental sanitation and that, according to the government, the green parties have no reason to be in the country.
The multiplication of coups and corruption are pushing back democracy
The President of the Egyptian Green Party and 2nd Vice-President of the African Green Federation, Mr. Mohamed Awad, for his part, drew up an overview of certain situations which have contributed to the decline of democracy in Africa. He cited, among other things, corruption and the proliferation of coups on the continent.
Finally taking the floor, Jean Claude Ntezimana, Deputy of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda also returned to the various difficulties that his party has experienced to establish itself in the country. He recalled that the Green Party of Rwanda presented a bill to parliament proposing the participation of representatives of opposition political parties in the electoral commission of the country. And he recalled that since their election to parliament, they have contributed to freedom of expression in the country even if there is still much to do.
After the presentation made by each panelist, the moderator of the session Mrs. Dorothée Nalubega who is the Women’s Coordinator of the East African Greens Federation gave the floor to the virtual audience. Several important contributions were made during this question-and-answer session that contributed to the in-depth understanding of the subject covered in this conference.
The speakers offered some solutions to strengthen the future of green parties in Africa, including the need to fund green parties and the active participation of youth and women in the cause of greens. All expressed their determination to continue the fight for a green democracy in Africa.